Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Michael: How many grammatical cases are there in Hungarian?
Boglárka: And how do they work?
Michael: At HungarianPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: Sasha Lee is confused about the number of cases in Hungarian. She asks a teacher, Borbala Balogh,
"How many cases are there in the Hungarian language?"
Sasha Lee: Hány eset van a magyar nyelvben?
Dialogue
Sasha Lee: Hány eset van a magyar nyelvben?
Balogh Borbála: Három eset van.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Sasha Lee: Hány eset van a magyar nyelvben?
Michael: "How many cases are there in the Hungarian language?"
Balogh Borbála: Három eset van.
Michael: "There are three cases."

Lesson focus

Michael: One of the primary things you will often hear about the Hungarian language is that it has at least twenty grammatical cases. In reality, you shouldn’t feel intimidated by such discouragements, since the three most basic grammatical cases are in fact highly similar to the ones we are used to in English. In this lesson, we will review these three: the nominative case,
Boglárka: alanyeset
Michael: accusative case,
Boglárka: tárgyeset
Michael: and possessive case
Boglárka: birtokos eset.
Michael: Let's see how each of these cases work, starting with the nominative case. The nominative case is the basic or unaltered form of a noun. A noun in the nominative case is the subject of the verb in the sentence. Here's an example:
Boglárka: A kutya kergeti a macskát.
Michael: "The dog is chasing the cat." Here, the word for "dog" is in the nominative case,
Boglárka: kutya.
Michael: Now, let's move on to the second case, which is the accusative case. The accusative case is when the object receives the direct action in the sentence. In our previous example, the word for "cat" is in the accusative case. Take note that a noun in this case usually ends in a -t suffix. For instance, in the nominative case, the word for "cat" is
Boglárka: macska
Michael: but, since it's in the accusative case, we add a -t suffix to the stem, so that it becomes
Boglárka: macskát.
Michael: Now, let's take a look at the third case, which is the possessive case. In English, we use an 's' to express possession, as well as words like 'my,' 'your,' and 'our.' The possessive case in Hungarian is expressed with affixes. For example, "my house" in Hungarian would be
Boglárka: házam
Michael: Keep in mind that there is only one affix for all numbers and persons. For 1st person singular, it's always the affix -m, and for 2nd person singular, it's always the affix -d. It only looks like there are many affixes because you also need to add link vowels whenever necessary. It is worth noting though that link vowels aim at making the pronunciation of the word easier. Generally, when two consonants would end up right beside each other at the end of a word and you would be having trouble pronouncing both consonants in a comfortable manner, it is very likely that you will need a linking vowel there. For instance, when a noun ends in a consonant, such as in the case of the word "chair" or
Boglárka: szék
Michael: it will take the possessive affix and a link vowel. In that case, "my chair" becomes
Boglárka: székem
Michael: and "your chair" becomes
Boglárka: széked
[Summary]
Michael: In this lesson, you learned about the three basic Hungarian grammatical cases. These three are the nominative case,
Boglárka: alanyeset
Michael: accusative case,
Boglárka: tárgyeset
Michael: and possessive case
Boglárka: birtokos eset.
Expansion
Michael: Remember that we mentioned that most people think Hungarian has twenty grammatical cases? That's because of the presence of postpositions, or
Boglárka: toldalékok.
Michael: If English has prepositions, Hungarian has postpositions, which means that these words are attached to the end of the nouns they modify. When you say "house," for example, in Hungarian, it is
Boglárka: ház.
Michael: Adding the postposition
Boglárka: -ba
Michael: changes its meaning to "into the house," or
Boglárka: házba.
Michael: If we change the postposition to
Boglárka: -ban
Michael: we get "in the house" or "inside of the house," or
Boglárka: házban.
Michael: Another common postposition is
Boglárka: -nál
Michael: which changes its meaning to "by the house," or "around the house,"
Boglárka: háznál.
Michael: Logically, there are quite a lot of these postpositions. For more or less everything that the English language expresses using prepositions (in, at, on, by, into etc.), Hungarian uses postpositions and sticks them to the end of the nouns being referred to.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Boglárka: Viszontlátásra!
Michael: See you soon!

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